It's the subject of many an argument in public houses across the UK: Just what is a classic car?

Sadly, whipping out your smart-phone and checking Wikipedia doesn't resolve the question - not if you want a UK definition. 

In the US, a number of states have decided 'classic' is a certain taxation class, while US car fan clubs have outlined particular age restrictions and criteria.

Classic car squabbles

But on this side of the pond, where we're less fond of such constitutional antics, there is no rock solid definition - leaving people in pubs up and down the nation completely unable to resolve their classic car squabbles.

If compelled to pick a definitive definition, we might go for cars built before January 1st, 1977. Cars made hitherto this point are not subject to vehicle excise duty (VED). This definition is far from concrete, however, not least because the date changes each year (it'll be 1978 presently).

Some folks would refuse to accept the 1977 cut-off point, reminding us of cars like the MKII Escort, or the Golf GTI.

Innovative classics

Then there's the notion that a classic car has to possess some technological or design innovation - something that sets it apart from its contemporaries. This is more a gut feeling or emotional sense that a car is a real classic. Popular 'gut feeling' cars might include the Ford Cortina MKII, which unlike the MKI can still be picked up affordably; or the Mazda RX-7 Series 1, with its ground-breaking rotary engine and sporty, streamlined looks.

From this point of view, classic is in the eye of the beholder.

But if there's one organisation that can provide us with a more hard-and-fast rule, it's the HMRC. Surely they can shed some light?

According to the Tax Man or Woman, a classic car must be aged 15 years or more, with a value exceeding £15,000.

However, when it comes to insurance - a matter that perhaps has more relevance to our pockets - the definition is a car aged 10 years or more, which is the broadest definition of all.

Classic car breakdown cover

Here at, we define a classic car as being 20 years old, regardless of its value. We believe that classic car breakdown cover should not be prohibitively expensive, which is why if your car is 20 years old or more, you can choose from three levels of cover.

Take a look at our classic car breakdown cover for more information on costs and benefits.